Public Affairs

Social Media Guidelines and Best Practices

Overview

The rapid growth and ease of use of social media technologies have made them attractive channels of communication. Social media can be a very effective way to communicate, promote, and brand Clemson University to multiple audiences across and outside of the university. However, social media can pose risks to the University’s confidential and proprietary information and can compromise compliance with rules, regulations and laws. This document is intended to help guide university employees in the use of social media for official university communications. These guidelines are not intended to apply to Internet and/or social media sites that have been created and are maintained by faculty and staff on their own time and without use of Clemson University technology or resources.  However, many of the guidelines outlined in this policy would be good “best practices” for any social media interaction.

Things to Consider Before Engaging in Social Media

Creating a successful social media page requires careful planning and resource allocation. Before you begin to use social media on behalf of Clemson University, please remember the following:

Keep in mind other Clemson University policies:

This document does not affect other University policies that might apply to use of social media, including, but not limited to the Harassment policy, Computer Use policy, Workplace Violence policy and University Web Policy.  If your use of social media would violate any of the Institution’s policies in another forum, it will also violate them in an online forum.

Get necessary approval

Before starting a social media site for your college, department, or unit, make sure you have approval from a supervisor or director of the college/department/unit. Only Clemson University employees authorized by their college, department or unit may be a content owner” or “administrator” for university social media websites. Social media accounts that are being set up to represent an overall Clemson University “voice” or initiative first must be approved through the office of Public Affairs.

Plan for having at least two administrators for every social media site

Having multiple content owners or administrators at all times for every social media application will ensure that the application can continue to thrive and be updated regularly even if one of the existing administrators changes jobs or leaves the university.

Prepare for the necessary time commitment

A social media site will only be effective if the administrators take the necessary time to generate interesting and interactive content and build relationships with the online community. While regular and timely updates and discussions are key to building your community, please also keep in mind that you don’t want to overload your audiences with too much information.

Make it easy for people to find your site

To maximize exposure and participation with your social media site you will want to make it as easy as possible for people to find it when searching online. A couple of suggestions on how to do this:

  1. Use Clemson University in the title of the site, if possible
  2. Try to avoid only using acronyms when naming your site

Use of Clemson University logos

If you are creating a social media site on behalf of Clemson University, please use official logos and graphics that represent and adhere to the logo guidelines.

The office of Creative Service at Clemson can provide guidance with graphics and design for your social media site.

Raising money via social networks

Charitable Contributions to or on behalf of the Clemson University Foundation or any other 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to support Clemson University, cannot be solicited, nor can they be accepted, unless approved in advance by the Foundation (http://www.clemson.edu/giving/cufoundations/).

Posting on Behalf of Clemson University

Sharing Clemson University news, events or promoting faculty, staff and student work through social media is an effective and low-cost way to engage various audiences of the university. In addition to the general guidelines discussed above, employees creating or posting on social media sites on behalf of Clemson University should remember:

Be Accurate

Make sure you have all the facts before you post. All research, data reporting and analysis made public on the Web should be verified for accuracy. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible.  That is how you build the trust of your community.

Realize your posts are public

If you have any questions about the appropriateness of the material you are posting to a university social media site, please check with your supervisor.  Also, as an employee of a public institution, Faculty, staff and student communications are subject to the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act.

Keep confidential matters private

Do not post proprietary information about Clemson University, including information about students, alumni or employees. Remember that most records related to students are protected from disclosure under the federal law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Disclosing any personally identifiable student education records through social media sites is a violation of FERPA. Information collected in connection with research may be protected under a Nondisclosure Agreement, research protocol or other applicable law or agreement. Any protected information must not be disclosed through social media.

Be transparent

It should be obvious that you work for Clemson University if you are posting as part of your job. If you are posting as a representative of Clemson University, your posts are viewed as representing the views of Clemson University, so make sure to post responsibly and with respect to others in your community. Your posts directly reflect on the university.

Responding to negative comments

When you find yourself disagreeing with others, keep your comments appropriate and polite. If you find yourself in a position where the communication becomes antagonistic, avoid being defensive. Please be respectful of other’s people’s opinions. Having thoughtful discussions on important topics is a great to way to build your community and is a very important aspect of having a successful social media site.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you receive a question you cannot answer or if you see incorrect information about Clemson University, contact the Office of Public Affairs (864-656-2061) for assistance. Contact the Office of Public Affairs if you having trouble creating or monitoring your social media site.